The unconventional way Ben Silbermann found his first hires is one of the most interesting aspects of Pinterest’s early employees. Most entrepreneurs rely heavily on their own personal networks, focusing on a certain school or alumni group, e.g. Dropbox or Snapchat, or through traditional job outlets, such as social media or other sites. Ben found his first engineer at a meet-up — he liked the questions that Yash Nelapati asked the presenter. He found his first Community Manager in an early user, Enid Hwang, when she emailed him with tips on improving the site. He saw a blog post by a college freshman and was so impressed, he drove from Palo Alto to Berkeley to meet him, then hired him to build their first iOS app.
Ben kept his eyes peeled for good talent, even in channels not popularly used to recruit. This is in part because he had never really been part of the traditional startup networks. He worked at Google for seven years after graduation, before he quit to try his hand at startups. Since then, Pinterest’s growth has been slow and steady, with a very loyal user base, and one can’t help but think it has something to do with Ben’s persona. According to those who have interviewed him, Ben has been described as small in stature and soft-spoken, yet confident, with a Midwestern air of humility.